North Shore influence shines at Gunbarrel


If you wander to Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe, plan to stop for dinner and wine at Gunbarrel Tavern. Newly opened under the guidance of Alex Cox and Executive Chef Billy McCullough of 22 Bistro in the Village at Squaw, Gunbarrel produces food that is so beautifully paired with the wine list that you’ll want to sample lots of both.

I began with white wines, and enjoyed the 2012 Ruffino Pinot Grigio. This is a smooth and fruity wine from Tuscany. The aroma is clean and intense, with notes of flowers, pears and golden apple, and a hint of sage and mint. Typical for a Pinot Grigio, it has minerality, yet the medium-body and structure shines through on the palate. This lemony-sagey crisp wine was terrific with the tuna appetizer. 12 percent alcohol. $7 by the glass, $28 for the bottle.

My next white wine choice was a 2011 Sean Minor Chardonnay. Kudos to Alex for finding this winery; they produce wines in a cooperative production facility in Napa Valley and source their fruit from various family wine grape growers. This Chardonnay features a lovely balance of ripe tropical fruit flavors and the classic crisp apple and minerality you expect from Central Coast vineyards and grapes. It has an aroma of pear, apple and orange blossom, and a nice acidity with medium body that leads to flavor of apricot, green apple and toasty marmalade. 13.5 percent alcohol. $8 by the glass, $32 for the bottle.

My first choice from the red wine list was the 2011 Seghesio Zinfandel. This particular vintage has rave reviews all over the Internet. With fruit sourced from Sonoma, this Zinfandel is spicy with lush flavor of black fruits and in particular raspberry. It is balanced and elegant, with berry, mineral and toast nuances and good tannins. 14.8 percent alcohol. $14 by the glass, $48 for the bottle.

The value deal on the list is the 2009 Lange Twins Cabernet Sauvignon. At $7 by the glass and $28 for the bottle, I am hard pressed to recommend a California Cabernet that is so delicious and yet so reasonably priced. The winemaker’s notes tell it succinctly: “Concentrated aromas of vibrant ripe cherry with a trace of chocolate. The aroma mingles with flavors of fresh cherry and dark blackberry notes, which are balanced by a mellow spice from nine months of oak barrel aging.” 13.9 percent alcohol.

The last red that I tasted was the 2010 Artesa Pinot Noir, Carneros Estate. This is a nicely complex Pinot Noir, with flavor of raspberry, strawberry and black cherry. The texture is indeed silky and intense, and there are hints of spices like vanilla, cedar and cinnamon to round out the palate. 14.4 percent alcohol. $14 by the glass, $48 for the bottle. For more information on Gunbarrel, call (530) 452-1460 or visit

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Barbara Keck
Barbara started writing for newspapers when she was 14 and continues to write, most recently the “Wineries of the Sierra Foothills” book published by Range of Light Media, parent company of The Tahoe Weekly. Barbara wrote the wine column for the Weekly for many years, and contributes occasional tidbits on tourism and entertainment topics. A long marketing consulting career that included extensive international travel led her to conclude that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Almost 20 years of enjoying the seasons on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe has confirmed her belief.